Microsoft Saves Apple!

Or so the headlines read some 13 years ago. In exchange for dropping a long-standing lawsuit related to the look-and-feel of Windows and supporting Internet Explorer on Macs, Microsoft invested $150M in Apple and committed to supporting their Office suite for five years on Apple computers. This was a big deal at the time. Bill Gates shared the stage with Steve Jobs at Macworld and many Apple fans were furious.

I mention it because this happened today.

$150 million? Apple generated over $3 billion in profit last quarter. I guess I am not really surprised, as the numbers have been rolling this way for a while, but it still seems amazing to me that Apple is bigger than Microsoft (for some definition of “bigger”).

(I hope this does not become a religious thread. I’m not a fanboy of either company, although I use both of their products.)

I wonder if Microsoft owns any stock in Apple from that $150 million investment 13 years ago?

That is crazy. I too knew it was headed this way, and thought it might happen by the end of the year or so, but was shocked when I read this last night. Can you imagine telling someone this would happen 13 years ago? They’d think you were insane.

I’m almost positive Microsoft eventually sold the stock back. I’ll see if I can find a cite.

As I recall from the deal, the $150 million wasn’t a loan or a gift; Microsoft purchased non-voting stock in Apple. The deal involved a buy-back or a conversion to voting shares after a certain number of years, but I don’t remember the specifics.

I remember that day, though, because at the time I was cashing out a mutual fund I had in order to reinvest the money in Apple stock, which was at an all-time low. When the Microsoft deal was announced, Apple’s stock shot up from $13.75 to over $50 in one morning. If I’d gotten my check quicker, I could’ve made $8K in one day. Still kinda peeved about it.

If you want to see some interesting history, search the board archives for “iPod” around 2001, when it was first released; lots of threads about what a stupid idea it was.

I remember the dark days all too well. Byte Magazine had a cover story in which they posited that it was just possible that Apple might remain relevant on into the 21st century. This was considered an unusually optimistic prediction. There was no OS X yet. According to Byte, Apple’s best hopes lay in

• OpenDoc, a different approach to documents in which documents would not longer be “of” a specific applicaton; you could borrow bits and pieces of applications to compose or edit or otherwise manipulate your document. Or something like that. Long since dead as rusted doornails, OpenDoc never materialized into anything except a browser named Cyberdog.

• QuickTime, which does persist to this day and is a decent multimedia layer & API on the Mac platform but its Windows incarnation still sucks according to my Windows-using friends; and most movies embedded in web pages are stupid Flash and those that aren’t are far more likely to be .wmv or .avi

• Copland, the OS that at that time was yet to come, which never came.

•AppleScript, probably the best success story of the items mentioned by Byte. AS is still robust and has grown into Automator, is supported by shell scripting, and is implemented by a decent number of apps from little sharewares to industry heavyweights.

• PowerPC, the chip from the Apple-IBM-Motorola consortium that was going to bury the cumbersome antiquated Intel x86. Yeah we see how that worked out. In all fairness, the PowerPC chip series did have its shining moments when it really was out in front of Intel’s best: the G3 when it first arrived on the scene, the G5… but by the mid-2000s neither Motorola nor IBM could deliver a laptop PowerPC chip that would let PowerBooks stay competitive (or they were sticking all their research & development money into other projects) and that was that.

Right. People have been predicting Apple’s doom for a long time. After the Mac came out in 1984, but before it caught on as a desktop publishing platform about a year or two later, there was almost non-stop bleating in the industry press about how Apple’s days were numbered.

A few days ago, I saw a news story that Apple was the biggest music retailer in America, just beating out Wal-Mart. Whatever you think of Steve Jobs, he’s done an amazing job of turning around the company since he rejoined it.

MS investing in Apple did create one of the all-time great editorial cartoons: Apple as a naïve Luke Skywalker in white, enthusiastically shaking hands with Microsoft as Darth Vader, looking ominously in black.

News coverage on Apple was really bizarre for a very long time. The so-called dark days of Apple were more successful than most companies ever are. It’s like technology journalists think something is either number one in sales or about to go out of business with nothing in between. Well, that and the people who buy cheap computers outnumber the ones who buy high quality ones, and so technology writers would be hired based upon their experience with the cheap ones.

PowerPC-based chips are used in all three current game consoles (the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360) as well as Nintendo’s previous console, the GameCube. The money brought in by these deals is likely very appreciated by Apple and I’d consider it a success.

According to this, not any more.

I know it was converted to voting (common) shares in 2003 (it’s in Apple’s disclosures for the year), and was about a half a percent (9 million shares or so) of the common stock at the time (there’s been a stock split since then, so it would be 18 million today, still less than half a percent). I haven’t found a reputable source for when it was sold (although a Microsoft employee recently claimed in my presence that MS still owned something like a third of Apple because of that original investment – something that was never true, even when the investment was originally made).

The only pleasant thing Microsoft has done to me is convince me to buy this splendid iMac.

And if Microsoft hadn’t saved Apple, Trolls on BOTH sides would have had nothing better to do, would have left the house, seen the Daystar, and mankind would have witnessed the next Golden Age!
or not. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve seen the Daystar - it’s in my Psimo.

Has Apple made plans for when Jobs eventually decides to leave Apple or dies in office?

He already has once. He’s a figurehead (a damn smart one), but he’s surrounded himself with equally brilliant people.

I keep wondering when their luck’s gonna run out. I thought they’d be done just after they switched to intel processors…I mean how can they POSSIBLY compete with a boutique computer in a commodity market with the exact same parts?

That was YEARS ago, they seem to be doing okay.

For starters, they can make it work right. I didn’t see it coming, but, it turns out that’s novel.

Maybe they don’t need luck…

It’s zombie Steve Jobs running the company now? Cool.


Yeah, but there was considerable historical evidence to think that way: by the time apple entered its “dark days”, pretty much all competitors that had a similar strategy to Apple - sell your own hardware with your own OS - like Commodore & Atari, who both had pretty decent offerings and used to have fairly solidly carved out niches (video editing on the Amiga, and audio/MIDI studios for the ST family, just like Apple dominated DTP), were either in dire straight or for all intents and purposes dead as a dodo.

Now AFAIK Commodore pretty much killed itself by bad management, and I don’t know much about Atari, but Apple really wasn’t doing all that well when Steve was away. They pretty much stayed in business because of inertia in the DTP market - and inertia isn’t enough.